The object of every coin buyer who has ever lived is to pay as little as possible for the coin he or she is interested in purchasing.
On the other side, the object of every coin seller who ever lived is to get the highest price possible for every coin he or she sells.
Market price is where these two individuals meet.
Because there is no such thing as a stock exchange for coins, these transactions can occur at prices that are spread over a wide range, but there are some basic rules.
If we list a 2014-D Roosevelt dime for $2 in MS-65, does that mean a roll of 50 2014-D Roosevelt dimes is worth $100?
If only that were so. We’d all be rich.
The reason the roll isn’t worth 50 times more is the price of one low-value modern individual coin is basically a convenience charge.
It is a convenience to offer a buyer who forgot to order a 2014 mint set the one coin he needs to finish his Roosevelt dime set.
To offer the coin at all, a dealer would have to have stocked the 2014-D at the time of issue or go out on the market to buy one when a customer asks for it.
Either route to being able to offer it costs the dealer time and money.
That makes it impossible for a seller to offer the MS-65 2014-D dime for 15 cents.
The markup is 50 percent. That’s huge.
Buyers of Thursday’s 2018-W uncirculated American Eagle one-ounce gold coin will pay a markup of roughly 30 percent.
Why should the dime buyer pay so much more?
The 30 percent markup from bullion value on the uncirculated gold amounts to roughly $375.
That covers all of the Mint’s overhead from planchet cost, die making, striking, packaging and shipping.
A 50-percent markup on a dime – five cents – would cover the cost of a flip and virtually nothing more.
Most coin dealers wouldn’t even bother to offer the dime for $10.
They just can’t cover their overhead for $9.90.
But there are some coin dealers who handle mass quantities of modern coins.
They have the lowest selling prices possible given the costs of providing individual coins.
But when we express these prices in percentage terms, the markup looks unbelievably large.
A price of $2 for one dime is a markup of 1,900 percent.
If you look at the prices of most coins struck for circulation from the last 50 years, they are basically priced as conveniences.
If you turn around and want to sell that MS-65 2014-D dime, how much would you get?
Very likely, the answer is face value, one dime.
The extra $1.90 disappears.
The only way you might get the $2 again is if by some miracle you found a similar collector who needed the exact same coin at the same time as you, the buyer, wants to sell it.
So what is a fair price for this dime?
$2? 10 cents? Some price between the two?
Take your pick.
Is it any wonder that we say that the value of a coin is the price agreed between a buyer and a seller?
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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